Bruce Chatwin Resources

Chatwin on the Web

Bruce Chatwin
A well-organised and informative site including an authoritative bibliography and numerous links.
This site is intended as a focal point for those interested in the life and work of Bruce Chatwin. For in depth discussion of Chatwin, consider joining the Bruce Chatwin Mailing List. This site is being continuously updated so please keep checking for the latest Chatwinia.

The Richmond Review, Book Review, Bruce Chatwin, by Nicholas Shakespeare
A review of what is beyond doubt Chatwin's best biography results in what is, arguably, the web's most illuminating effort. An excerpt:
The long journey that encompassed Chatwin's short life receives its first full exposition in this remarkable book. Not only has Shakespeare retraced the maze of Chatwin's globetrotting, he has succeeded in producing a coherent portrait of a man whose history was only available hitherto through his own inventions and embellishments...

A Good Writer, Of Course, But a Tiresome Man
Jan Morris applies personal experiences of Chatwin in this review of Suzannah Clap's biography, With Chatwin: A Portrait of Bruce Chatwin. The opening lines read:
Somewhere in this well-balanced memoir Susannah Clapp says that Bruce Chatwin could be 'too much' for some people. As a person, he was decidedly too much for me. Snobbism, equally camp and genuine; showy connoisseurship of a quirky kind; the deadly energy of a raconteur; the insensitivity of the tuft-hunter; a gift for mimicry; sexual ambiguity of the Strength Through Joy kind... - all these characteristics, distilled into one very clever, exuberant and apparently ageless being, made all too rich a mixture for an unsophisticated provincial.

Bruce Chatwin: A Tribute
Another very personal biography, this one by Kerry Ross Boren, is lengthy, in depth and will not leave the impression Chatwin was 'too much.'
Bruce was a friend of mine. Probably no other person I have ever known had a more profound effect upon my career as a writer, or upon me personally. Certainly I am not alone in this. The novelist Andrew Harvey noted in a New York Times review of Bruce's last travel book, "The Songlines" (1987), "Nearly every writer of my generation in England has wanted, at some point, to be Bruce Chatwin, wanted to be talked about, as he is, with raucous envy; wanted, above all, to have written his books."

The Lyman Family, A Story, by Bruce Chatwin
The text of this story, from the Chatwin anthology, What Am I Doing Here, appears in full, alongside a parallel version annotated for accuracy. There is also a link to a Mel Lyman fan page. The webmaster writes:
For whatever his reasons, Chatwin, apparently well-known as a travel writer, has created a story which contains many clear inaccuracies, does not match most published descriptions of life on Fort Hill, and which seems to intentionally cast Mel Lyman and the members of the community in the worst possible light.

The Bruce Chatwin Bibliography
An exhaustive and thoroughly organised bibliography focussing on literary and academic criticism (remember, not all criticism is negative) of Chatwin's works. In addition to all those citations, there is one quote.
"I should set down on paper a résumé of the ideas, quotations and encounters which had amused and obsessed me; and which I hoped would shed light on what is, for me, the question of all questions: the nature of human restlessness."

-- The Songlines

The Literary Encyclopedia: The Songlines
A review of The Songlines within a post-modernist context. If you're not comfortable with poly-syllabic post-modernist jargon, this might be a bit of a slog. The biography offered by this site, on the other hand, is factual and accessible, if somewhat uninspired, but does provide links to reviews of Chatwin's other books. A taste of the review:
Chatwin’s text is more than simply another travelogue with a number of anthropological and ecological frills designed to present a healthy and peaceful utopia of “noble savages” as a viable alternative to western destruction. Stylistically and structurally, Chatwin’s intention is to challenge traditional demarcations between scientific/ethnographic and creative/fictional discourse. The reader’s horizon of genre expectations is challenged when the narrative of the Australian excursion among land cruisers and a host of strange but probable characters selected from Australia’s multicultural population is interrupted to include a substantial number of pages presenting the narrator’s diary entries, interviews, and citations which are quite obviously taken from the materials Chatwin himself collected when researching his treatise on nomadology.


Chatwin in the Nomadic Spirit

Chatwin and I explore Australia's Red Centre, the Aboriginal Creation Myths. Includes lengthy excerpts from The Songlines . This is in two parts, so don't forget to follow the links to Part II.
Prosperity and Luck in the Very Near Future
The full text of Chatwin's story, The Chinese Geomancer, from the post-humous anthology, What Am I Doing Here.